Retributive Approach vs Restorative Approach within a school culture

Restorative Justice in Schools


Old Paradigm

Retributive Justice

New Paradigm

Restorative Justice

Misdemeanour defined as breaking the school rules


Misdemeanour defined as adversely affecting others

Focus on establishing blame or guilt; on the past (did he/she do it?)

Focus on problem-solving by expressing feelings and needs and how to meet them in the future

Adversarial relationship and process

Dialogue and negotiation – everyone involved in communicating and cooperating with each other

Imposition of pain or unpleasantness to punish and deter/prevent


Restitution as a means of restoring both/all parties, the goal being reconciliation

Attention to right rules, and adherence to due process


Attention to right relationships and achievement of the desired outcome

Conflict represented as impersonal and abstract:  individual versus school


Misdemeanours recognised as interpersonal conflicts with some value for learning

One social injury replaced by another


Focus on repair of social injury/damage

School community as spectators, represented by member of staff dealing with the situation


School community involved in facilitating restoration

People affected by misdemeanour not necessarily involved


Encouragement of all concerned to be involved – empowerment

Miscreant accountability defined in terms of receiving punishment

Miscreant accountability defined as understanding the impact of the action, seeing it as a consequence of choices and helping to decide how to put things right


Reproduced with the kind permission of Belinda Hopkins 2001

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